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Culture & Identity of Georgia

Introduction

Georgia is a very mountainous and inaccessible country. These mountains have isolated people, allowing their traditional ways of life to survive in the past and even today to some degree. Despite Soviet efforts to urbanize the Georgians, their efforts were only partially successful as today only about half the people are urbanized with the other half in the farm fields or in mountain valleys.

Soviet efforts to industrialize Georgia also failed (although some would argue the efforts to industrialize Georgia were poor at best since Josef Stalin was an ethnic Georgian and distrusted the people, placing fewer important industries in the region). Today over half the population of Georgia works in the agricultural industries, with only about 10% working in industry. The agriculture is based on the growth of citrus fruits, grapes, tea, and others, including vegetables, animals, and nuts.

For the many farmers in the country the day is dictated by the sun as work begins at sun up and ends with the setting of the sun. There is little difference from the work week to the weekend as farming is a full time job during the warm summer months. Winters tend to be slow and quite for these people in many parts of the country, although on the lower lands the weather is better year round. For everyone else businesses tend to operate from about 9:00 am to about 5:00 or 6:00 pm. Despite the long hours in the fields, the GDP per capita is only about $6,000, which is perhaps partially indicative of the heavy agricultural base of the country's economy.

School is an important part of life in Georgia, with most schools open from mid-September to about the end of May, although there are variations on this schedule. School life in Georgia also varies significantly from cities to villages as everything from transportation to school culture varies based on the location of the school.

Free time in Georgia is heavily based on family, food, wine, and religion. Evenings and weekends (Saturday-Sunday) tend to bring families together for a meal, dessert, and the national favorite, wine, preferably homemade, or locally made wine. Family is the center of the culture in Georgia and most free time is spent with family, especially in more rural areas. In cities there is a growing nightlife for couples and singles, but the culture surrounding this way of life only caters to a very small percentage of the people.

Identity

Georgia is a country of minorities and hidden mountainous people in addition to the ethnic majority of Georgians. These various ethnic groups tend to identify by their ethnicity and this can put them at odds with the majority and the government, particularly if they're Muslim. This friction has led to a number of independence movements in Georgia and has created difficulty in uniting the people. The ethnic majority identifies as Georgian, which is a term that is based on ethnicity, but is also linked to the language and the religion, as Georgia is one of the oldest Christian (Georgian Orthodox) countries in the world. The term Georgian can also be used to identify a citizen of the country, but due to ethnic divisions and conflicts, few ethnic minorities use this term to identify themselves, even if they are citizens of the country.

This page was last updated: November, 2013